Unveiling a Nation – “Playing at Border Crossing in a Mexican Indigenous Community… Seriously”

I came across an account of the Mexican theatrical experience EcoAlberto Park’s Camina Nocturna in an essay by ASU professor Tamara L. Underiner in the last issue of MIT Press’s The Drama Review/TDR journal (Summer 2011), “Playing at Border Crossing in a Mexican Indigenous Community… Seriously“.  After a little bit of research (a.k.a. shameless Googling) I learned that this experiential and nationalistically performative experience based in El Alberto, Hidalgo, Mexico has garnered the attention of Stanford filmmaker Jamie Meltzer and plenty of reviews from tourists from both sides of the border, although most accounts are written in Spanish.

The lengthy nighttime theatricalization of border crossing presents an indigenous perspective on border crossing.  The potential of a completely non-American, almost Zapatista perspective to border crossing intrigued me, as I only have experience with the various American perspectives on the issue.  As I read further, I found myself constantly re-thinking my very uninformed and mostly incorrect assumptions about Mexican identity and immigration.  Rather than perpetuating the traditionalism that I seemed to interpret from the performance’s ceremonial elements and my weak understanding of Mexico as a museum-culture, La Caminata presents a contrast to this traditionalism and a complex web of historical and modern influences both national and local.  If the accounts of this performance alone can force me out of my comfort zone, I can only imagine what first-hand experience would feel like.

Underiner, Tamara L. “Playing at Border Crossing in a Mexican Indigenous Community… Seriously”. The Drama Review/TDR journal (55.2).  MIT Press, Summer 2011.

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